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Gardener's Dirt: Gardening symposium offers something for everyone

By By Sara Meyer - Victoria County Master Gardener Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
Sept. 22, 2011 at 4:22 a.m.

One of the trees that grows well in this area is the Mexican olive.  It is heat tolerant and should be watered sparingly. An evergreen, it can reach 20 feet in height. Highlighted speaker Heidi Sheesley will include the Mexican olive tree in her presentation during the morning session of the fall gardening symposium.

Fall Gardening Symposium

WHAT: "It's All About Trees ... And More"

WHEN: Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WHO: Heidi Sheesley of Treesearch Farms, Houston speaking on "Totally Tenacious and Texas Tough Plants"

LUNCHEON SPEAKER: Dr. Jerry Parsons, professor and Extension Horticulturist (retired) speaking on "Old Plants Made New"

Eight additional gardening experts

SPONSORED BY: Victoria County Master Gardener Association and Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Plant Sale Features Texas Tough Plants and Trees

Anticipated Availability

Butterfly weed, prairie aster, chile petin, hummingbird bush,

Texas star hibiscus, Gulf Coast muhly, pigeonberry, vitex, Mexican plum, loquat, Monterrey oak, almond verbena, cassia, Mexican olive

Gardening Books Available At Plant Sale

"Texas Garden Almanac" by Doug Welsh - Monthly gardening calendar; practical information for shrubs, flowers, trees and landscape design strategies.

"Insects of Texas" by David H. Kattes - practical, non-technical home and landscape insect identification.

"TexasWildscapes" - Gardening for Wildlife by Kelly Conrad Bender - information on attracting wildlife to your garden or landscape.

Many readers are familiar with Dr. Seuss, but are you familiar with his book, "The Lorax"? In this book, the Lorax speaks for the trees, particularly the beautiful, brightly-colored tufted "truffula trees," which are being axed down by the Once-ler in order to make the much wanted "thneed" from the truffula tuft.

The thneed, a thing with many uses, is in such demand that Once-ler builds a factory and even invents a "super-axe-hacker" to cut down four truffula trees at a time. Shortly and sadly after all of this "biggering," there are no more truffula trees, and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, disappears. Unless, someone like you cares a "whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not." The Lorax, who speaks for the trees, returns when the Once-ler calls out, "Plant a new truffula tree. Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air. Grow a forest. Protect the trees from axes that hack."

The gardening symposium, "It's All About Trees ... and More," on Saturday, will help you learn management techniques for your trees and landscape plants to flourish. Coordinated by Victoria County Master Gardener Association and Texas AgriLife Extension Service-Victoria County, the symposium will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion, 283 Bachelor Drive, Victoria. IT'S ALL ABOUT TREES

Presentations will feature Matt Weaver, Texas Forest Service and a certified arborist, speaking on the proper planting methods and training and pruning methods of trees. Dr. Jerry Parsons, professor and Extension Horticulturist (retired), will discuss the many varieties of trees recommended for the Victoria area. How to manage pests on trees will be explained by Molly Giesbrecht, plant pathologist and adjunct instructor of microbiology and chemistry at Victoria College, who has worked first-hand with many tree pests. TEXAS TOUGH PLANTS

Known for her work in promoting water-wise horticulture practices, Heidi Sheesley, owner of Treesearch Farms of Houston, will open the symposium with a discussion of "Totally Tenacious and Texas Tough Plants," including butterfly weed, prairie aster and some 65 more. Many of the plants discussed in Sheesley's presentation will be on sale for registered symposium attendees at 10 a.m. OLD PLANTS MADE NEW

Dr. Jerry Parsons will speak during the noon luncheon about those plants, which are tried-and-true and some of the new cultivars from those old plants. A popular Extension Service speaker, radio and television personality, and newspaper columnist, Dr. Parsons also will speak at one of the concurrent sessions on "Recommended Trees for Victoria Area." At 3 p.m., he will close the symposium with a presentation for all attendees about "Fall Gardening: It's Time to Get Your Fingers Dirty," which will help answer fall gardening questions.RAINWATER HARVESTING, INDOOR CONTAINER GARDENS

With several concurrent sessions scheduled, attendees can choose to hear Kathy Chilek, Victoria County Master Gardener and rainwater harvesting specialist, discuss the ABC's of rainwater harvesting including information on Texas water law, active and passive rain water collection systems, and what each person can do daily to conserve this resource. Caroline Boatman, certified landscape professional and owner of Primavera Interior Landscapes of Houston will show how to "Turn Your Indoor Spaces into Green Spaces: A Creative Guide to Indoor Container Gardening." A graduate of Victoria High School and Texas A&M with a Bachelor of Science in horticulture, Boatman will share tips and designs for indoor container gardens, which she has used in more than 20 years in the landscape business.XERISCAPING AND OUTSIDE CONTAINER GARDENS

With 90 percent of Texas suffering the effects of a two-year drought, many people will turn to xeriscaping and Earthkind gardening in their landscapes. Michael Potter, Nueces County Extension agent, will share the principles of xeriscaping, as well as plants used in xeriscaping and Earthkind gardening in this concurrent session. "Outside Container Gardening," another concurrent session, presented by Lon Smith, Vocational Director of Devereux Gardens-Victoria, will show attendees how to brighten their own outdoor spaces with interesting, colorful container gardens for either shade or direct sun locations. BACKYARD HABITATS AND JEWELS IN THE GARDEN

In her presentation, "Creating Backyard Habitats for Wildlife," Ruth Anderson, Victoria County Master Gardener and lifelong steward of the land, will share ways in which the homeowner can ensure Texas wildlife can survive even as human populations and industrial developments encroach on their habitats. "Jewels in the Garden: Inviting Butterflies and Hummingbirds" by Nancy Kramer, VCMGA member for nine years, explains methods to attract both to the landscape including nectar and host plants, ways to provide water, and ways to prevent predators. PLANT SALE, RAFFLE AND SILENT AUCTION

The Gardening Symposium includes a plant sale featuring plants and trees discussed in both Sheesley's and Parsons' presentations, a silent auction and raffle. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at the VEG Pavilion and if not pre-registered, admission is $60. The symposium begins at 9 a.m.

Come to the symposium to learn about trees, landscapes and our environment so we can all live together harmoniously as suggested by Dr. Seuss in "The Lorax."

The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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